Breaking Down the Indians’ Updated Taxi Squad and Fall Instructional Roster
With MLB playoffs right around the corner, clubs are working to finalize two different rosters.
The first is an updated 12-man taxi squad. This group of players will be confined within the postseason bubble along with those on the active roster, ready to step in should a rash of injuries occur in October.
The Cleveland Indians assembled their final group Monday. The players included will remain in Lake County until Wednesday before heading to Progressive Field the following day.
Not all of those left off the list will be sent home, though.
Cleveland has begun tabbing prospects to head to Phoenix for fall instructional programs. 50 players will take part in a month-long session, which involves playing games against other big league clubs.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at who the Indians included on their taxi squad, and who they’ll be sending to Arizona for additional work this fall.
Pitchers (6) -- LHP Logan Allen, RHP Adam Cimber, LHP Sam Hentges, RHP Dominic Leone, LHP Scott Moss, LHP Kyle Nelson
Cleveland will certainly have plenty of lefties on the table if its bullpen gets bitten by the injury bug. Of the six pitchers included in the squad, only two aren’t southpaws.
Both righties -- Cimber and Leone -- spent much of this season with the Indians. However, each displayed enough inconsistency to ensure neither was included on the active roster. Whether the team would confidently tab Cimber or Leone in a pinch is something worth keeping an eye on this postseason.
As for the lefty brigade, only Allen logged noteworthy time on the mound this summer (7.2 IP). Nelson made his rookie debut on September 10, and was promptly optioned after getting tagged for three hits and four earned runs in his lone appearance.
The most intriguing option of this entire group is Hentges.
Ranked as Cleveland’s No. 28 prospect by MLB Pipeline, he boasts a fastball which reaches 96 mph on the radar, as well as an above average curve.
Though odds don’t favor him getting the call over vets like Allen, Cimber or Leone, Hentges at least has an enticing enough arsenal to keep his name in the mix.
Position Players (6) - OF Jake Bauers, SS Ernie Clement, OF Daniel Johnson, OF Domingo Santana, C Beau Taylor, OF Bradley Zimmer
Cleveland is certainly staying on-brand, bringing as many outfielders as possible into the postseason bubble.
Theoretically, the Indians shouldn’t suffer so many outfield injuries that a call to the taxi squad becomes necessary. If that takes place, though, Zimmer (20 games) and Santana (24 games) likely sit at the top of the list due to the amount of playing time each logged with Cleveland this season.
The most surprising inclusion with this list is Bauers.
As noted a couple weeks ago, we haven’t heard his name even once this summer despite Cleveland constantly rotating its outfield. Knowing that, Bauers being omitted wouldn’t have been surprising.
His veteran status may have helped the cause, and one would imagine the team ranks him higher than Johnson, considering the rookie only made a five-game cameo this season.
Finally, in a perfect world, Cleveland doesn’t lose Roberto Pérez, Sandy León and Austin Hedges to injury in the playoffs. Still, fear of such scenario taking place seems to explain why Taylor will be the fourth Indians catcher included in the postseason bubble.
Below is a look at some of the prospects Cleveland is sending to Arizona on October 5. The list is not yet final, and has been populating throughout the day.
Right off the bat, you can see the Tribe included Gabriel Arias, Joey Cantillo and Owen Miller, the three prospects acquired in last month’s Mike Clevinger trade. This shouldn’t be terribly surprising, as the team is likely eager to get an extended look at its new additions.
Cleveland also made sure to include some of the other top players from its farm system. Nolan Jones (No. 1), Tyler Freeman (No. 2), Bo Naylor (No. 3), George Valera (No. 4) and Aaron Bracho (No. 8) are all included among MLB Pipeline’s list of the Indians’ top 10 prospects.
Of course, there are some notable names missing here, as well. Though they may eventually be added when the list is finalized, neither Bobby Bradley nor Brayan Rocchio have been tabbed just yet.
Bradley was a part of Cleveland’s initial off-site team, so his not being included would be quite a head-scratcher.
The hard-hitting first baseman has one major issue to work on -- his strikeout rate -- before seemingly being ready for another crack at the bigs.
With Carlos Santana’s 2021 option almost certain to be declined, one would think the Indians want Bradley getting as much work as possible before next spring.
As for Rocchio, the team’s No. 7 ranked prospect is currently absent on the instructionals list after failing to make the off-site group earlier this summer.
Sure, the Tribe has numerous shortstop prospects to work with, including Freeman and Arias. Still, for someone ranked so highly within Cleveland’s system, it’s a bit surprising to see him still absent here after he was away from the team all summer long.
As noted, though, this specific list is still updating, so both Bradley and Rocchio could find themselves in Arizona after all. In the end, they may become nothing more than curiously late submissions.
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